The legal process of transferring ownership of a property in the U.K. is known as conveyancing. This can be carried out either by a solicitor who specialises in conveyancing or a licensed conveyancer. You can also complete the process yourself, although this should only be attempted if the sale is straightforward, and you should be aware that you will be liable for any mistakes made in the preparation of the contract. E-Conveyancing was introduced in the U.K. in 2003.
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Things you need
- Licensed conveyancer or solicitor
- Title deeds
- Energy Performance Certificate
Obtain estimates from solicitors and licensed conveyancers. Solicitors who specialise in conveyancing are listed on the Law Society website and licensed conveyancers on the website of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.
Instruct your chosen conveyancer by completing an instruction form, which will include the details of the property, its price and any mortgages or other loans that are attached to it.
Read and sign a copy of the agreed terms and conditions of the service, which your conveyancer will provide. If you are not happy with the terms and conditions, ask for them to be changed.
Prove that you are the lawful owner of the property and have the right to sell it. This information is on the title deeds relating to the property and your conveyancer can quickly access these online if your title is registered with the Land Registry in England and Wales, Land Register Scotland or Land Registers of Northern Ireland. If your title is not registered, take the title documents to your conveyancer for checking.
Answer any queries arising from the title deeds that may be raised by the buyer's solicitor or conveyancer.
Ask your conveyancer to draft the initial contract, which should include the sale price, what's included in the price (fixtures and fittings) and a full description of the property and boundary details. It should also detail any planning restrictions or special rules about use of the property, such a public footpath running through it.
Submit the draft contract to the buyer's conveyancer along with copies of the deeds and property information forms. Ensure you are available to answer any further questions.
Obtain an Energy Performance Certificate, known as an EPC, which is valid for 10 years. If your property does not have one, contact an accredited domestic energy assessor through Landmark, an organisation run on behalf of the U.K. government.
Sign the final copy of the contract. This is called an "exchange of contracts,: which is legally binding and commits both parties.
Answer any further questions from the buyers. The buyer's conveyancer will prepare the necessary documents to transfer ownership of the property.
Check that the buyer has arranged building insurance for the property between exchange and completion. The buyer normally arranges insurance from the exchange date.
Await the transfer of funds from the buyer. Your conveyancer will arrange this and inform you once the funds are in your account.
Hand over the legal documents, which transfer ownership to the buyer.
Move out of the property and hand the keys to the new owner.
Tips and warnings
- Try and get personal recommendations when you choose a solicitor or licensed conveyancer.
- If you decide to do your own conveyancing, have your final contract checked by a licensed conveyancer.
- Although it is both legal and possible to do your own conveyancing, you will need to devote a lot of time and energy to the process and you will be liable for any mistakes made.
- Transferring ownership of property in Scotland is different from England and Wales and Northern Ireland. Both parties are committed to the transfer at a far earlier stage in Scotland. Once a written offer has been accepted, neither party can withdraw from the sale without being liable for losses to the other party.
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